According to a report I heard on Israel Radio today - but have not seen anywhere online, the IDF called off a raid against the home of a senior Hamas official after the official - who had been alerted to the raid by the IDF - left the home and Hamas radio called for 'Palestinians' to come and guard the home with their bodies. The 'Palestinians' willingly went to serve as human shields' and Israel canceled the raid.
Is there any other army in the world that warns its targets that it is going to destroy their homes?
This is an al-Beeb video on the 'destruction of an apartment complex' in Gaza. Note that the fact that the apartment bloc was hit because it included Ismail Haniyeh's 'office' is never mentioned.
But what really got to me - and what shows al-Beeb's blatant anti-Israel bias - is the following (emphasis added by me):
The Israeli air attacks have prompted retaliation, most of it aimed at the town of Sderot, but Hamas is now able to target nearby Ashkelon too. The rocket squads are using Soviet Katyusha missiles with a longer range than locally-improvised weapons.
When you read what I've highlighted, it makes it sound like Israel is the aggressor and that the 'Palestinians' are only retaliating. We all know that's nonsense. Anyway, here's the videotape.
Columbia continues to present one side of the story
Martin Kramer reports this week on the goings on at Columbia University, where as many of you know I got a Bachelor's degree some years ago (I'm an anniversary class this year, and will continue my tradition of not attending the reunion). The more things change, the more they stay the same. The first paragraph below was true when even when I was there, and the rest of it shows that the University is continuing the anti-Israel bias it has exhibited for many years now (Hat Tip: Solomonia whose comments are also worth checking out).
Rubinstein discovered that the only truly active friends of Israel on campus were orthodox Jewish students. For him, a self-avowed secular humanist, it came as crushing disappointment that like-minded Israelis weren't standing up. At the demonstration against Ahmadinejad, he could "count the Israelis on a hand that's missing fingers." At the faculty level, it was worse. He tells of being present in a meeting attended by two Israeli professors. One proposed the screening of the film Jenin, Jenin, a cinematic slander of Israel, and the other proposed inviting Israel-demonizing Norman Finkelstein to campus. Rubinstein doesn't name the two, but the sad thing about Columbia is that their identities aren't obvious. More than two Israeli professors there could have made these sorts of proposals.
That aside, it reminded me of some unfinished Columbia business. Avid readers of this blog will recall that Columbia president Lee Bollinger, back in 2005, tried to calm the raging waters by announcing the establishment of a chair of Israel studies. Four trustees quickly anted up $3 million. The university then appointed a search committee that included Palestinian agitprofs Rashid Khalidi and Lila Abu-Lughod. At the time, I wrote this:
The inclusion of Khalidi and Abu-Lughod on the search committee is perverse. Edward Said used to complain that the Palestinians needed "permission to narrate" their story. At Columbia, the situation is reversed: Israel can't be narrated without the permission of the great Palestinian mandarins. They must be appeased, satisfied, propitiated.
So were they? The chair has been filled by Yinon Cohen [pictured, top left. CiJ], a former Tel Aviv University sociologist who works mostly on labor markets and migration. Cohen isn't a hard-left post-Zionist, but he's far enough left to have signed a May 2002 open letter by some Israeli faculty. At the time, Israel was wrapping up Operation Defensive Shield, its response to the wave of suicide bombings inside Israel that had killed Israelis in the hundreds. The letter's signatories announced their "wish to express our appreciation and support for those of our students and lecturers who refuse to serve as soldiers in the occupied territories... [T]he present war is not being fought for our home but for the settlements beyond the green line and for the continued oppression of another people."
I don't think Khalidi and Abu-Lughod have much to worry about.
Kramer has updated his post twice since Solomon posted his link. The updates indicate that Cohen may in fact beis a moonbat in the true Columbia mold. Make sure to check out the updates here.
Arthur Hertzberg - the Conservative Rabbi and tradition Labor Zionist who taught the history of Zionism when I was at Columbia - must be rolling over in his grave.
With yet another house hit in Sderot this morning, with the "color red" warning system now in place in Ashkelon so that its residents will have fifteen seconds' warning (instead of zero as previously) to take cover against oncoming rockets, and with the entire Negev receiving instructions today on what to do in 'emergency situations' (Israel Radio report) the time has long since passed for a ground invasion of Gaza. Will this be the week that it happens? Maybe.
According to Israel Radio, plans have been made, targets have been approved by the IDF, and only approval from the 'political echelon' is pending. It will be up to Defense Minister Ehud Barak(pictured, top left) to decide when to seek that approval.
One indication that an invasion may be imminent is that - according to Israel Radio - Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman has canceled a planned visit here this week. Although the Egyptians are nearly as concerned about what is going on in Gaza as we are, the last thing Suleiman wants is to be in Israel when a ground invasion of Gaza takes place or even just before one. 'Arab solidarity' - after all - is more important than sanity and clear relations with the Joooos.
But US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is supposed to be here Tuesday, and has already met with Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert this week in Japan. Here's betting that the IDF waits until after she leaves. After what happened to her in the summer of 2006 (the takeout of missile sites at Qana and the fauxtography that ensued occurred while she was here), she is not going to take that risk again.
All of the above has come out since the morning's news. Here's some of what the JPost had to say earlier today about the IDF's preparations:
According to defense sources, the goals of such an operation - reportedly in the planning stages for weeks if not months - would not "merely" be to reduce the threat of rocket fire and rocket manufacturing in the Gaza Strip, but would also likely entail paralyzing the Hamas government's ability to operate, and even include "regime change."
Barak spoke with Quartet envoy Tony Blair and Egyptian intelligence head Omar Suleiman and said Israel could not tolerate the current level of rocket fire in the South without offering a wider response.
Barak also offered hints as to his plans, telling local community leaders gathered at Sapir Academic College outside Sderot that "the solution to Kassams will be a lot quicker than many people think."
And the Foreign Ministry, in talking points sent to its representatives abroad, instructed them to say that when Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005 it did so without the intention of ever returning, but that the continuation of terrorist attacks was likely to place the country in a position where it may have no other choice.
The ministry also instructed its representatives to reveal that the Grad missiles that were fired at Ashkelon on Thursday were smuggled through Sinai from Iran.
According to one diplomatic source, stressing the Iranian origin of the missiles showed the importance of aggressive action to stop the smuggling and isolate Hamas from Syria and Iran, which "directs the organization's terrorist actions."
"We have warned for a while about the arming of Hamas, and what is happening now is proof of this," the official said.
The plans sound decent. The problem is that there is an 'exit strategy' that is only likely to make matters worse: the imposition of NATO forces as human shields to protect 'Palestinian' terrorists in Gaza - and maybe in Judea and Samaria as well.
One other thing I have to add. I mentioned above that the Home Front of the IDF gave instructions to southern residents today on how to deal with 'emergency situations.' The instructions reminded me of this:
One of the unfortunate consequences of President Bush's backing off from his clear stance on Islamic terror is that the Republican party has followed. The result is this piece of political correctness from the Republican National Committee:
Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan formally denounced Thursday the Tennessee Republican Party's use of Barack Obama's full name in a recent press release questioning the Illinois senator's commitment to Israel.
“The RNC rejects these kinds of campaign tactics," RNC Chairman Mike Duncan said in a statement. "We believe this election needs to be about the critical issues confronting our nation.”
The statement in question, which was released Monday, said the state party is joining a "growing chorus of Americans concerned about the future of the nation of Israel…if Sen. Barack Hussein Obama is elected president of the United States.” It also included a photograph of Obama from a 2006 trip to Kenya in which he is dressed in traditional attire worn by area Muslims.
The press release was sparked by recent praise for the Illinois senator from Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan, who has made several derogatory remarks about Judaism and has indicated his support for Obama. At Tuesday night's MSNBC debate, Obama said he denounced those comments and did not seek Farrakhan's support.
Does the Republican National Committee deny that Islamic terror is one of the 'critical issues' confronting the United States? Not all Muslims are terrorists but nearly all terrorists are Muslims - would the Republican National Committee claim that we should ignore that fact?
I have discussed Obama's troubling stands on Israel all over this blog (plug in "Obama" and you should get enough results that you should have to go to Google and not just use Blogspot's search engine). Would the Republican National Committee argue that those stands are not an issue? If the Republican National Committee is looking to return to the lukewarm support of Israel that existed under Bush 41, please let me know now so I don't waste my time and energy voting.
Like all Orthodox Jews (and like most Jews whether Orthodox or not - I would venture to guess), I have a Hebrew name. My Israeli identification card uses my English name because that is what was on my US passport when I got here and because my law practice's goodwill - especially in my early years here - was completely dependent on the name Carl. But my wife and children don't have English names - their given names are only in Hebrew. (If I posted under my Hebrew name, it would remove whatever anonymity I have left on this blog, because my Hebrew name is distinctive). Using Hebrew names only is a matter of pride in our community, and it's something much more common in my children's generation than in mine. If Hadassah Lieberman (Senator Lieberman's wife) ran for President, she would use the name Hadassah and everyone would know she is Jewish.
Is Barack Hussein Obama ashamed of his middle name? Does its use disclose something he would rather hide? And if it does, why is the Republican National Committee helping him hide it?
I got this beautiful video from NY Nana so I just had to post it. This is the "what's left of overnight" thread.
This video is a mix of the Yerushalayim song off the upcoming album and the side story of an American boy visiting Israel with his zeide. The grandson in the video is the "popular" Cantor Simcha Levinstein who sings in the choir. Another farmiliar voice on the album is that of Shimon Bell (Sheves Achim) who just released a album with his brother. The song is composed by Shneur Steinberg who also composed "Lemaranan" on the first album.
The album is called Arayvim Zeh L'zeh. Composed for the most part by Nachman Seltzer. There is a song by Shaya Cohn, who wrote the lyrics for Nisht Oif Shabbos Geret for Lipa, and and another song by Elimelech Blumstien, who is a major up and coming composer. Arrangements by Leib Yaacov Rigler and Jeff Hurvitch. 11 new songs and one surprise medley. Featuring Soloists; Moshe Bell from Sheves Achim-Agil and Simcha Levinstein- the Mini Helfgot, who just released his debut chazonus album.
The danger to Obama: What happens to apostates in Islam
I've spent a lot of time on this blog discussing the dangers arising from the possible election of Barack (don't mention his middle name is Hussein) Obama as President of the United States. Now I'd like to shift directions and discuss the danger to Obama.
As you might expect from a candidate who is apparently a strong supporter of the 'Palestinians,' Obama is garnering substantial support in the Arab world. Aussie Dave has an interview with a 23-year old Ibrahim Abu Jayyab, a Gaza resident who supports Obama.
He thinks that if Obama becomes the US President he will help the Palestinians to achieve their dreams.
“We can not achieve our dreams because of the Israeli occupation, the world did not help us to end the Israeli occupation,” he said “we hope Obama will achieve what the world could not, to help us to live in peace and to achieve our dreams.”
Abu Jayyab believes that as Obama from an Islamic origin and from those who oppressed a long the history, he thinks that he will absorb the suffer of the Palestinians and will not hesitate to help them.
Note how it's not just that Abu Jayyab believes that Obama will help the 'Palestinians' to achieve their 'dreams' (of wiping Israel off the map), but that he is "from Islamic origin." According to Amil Imani, it is precisely Obama's Islamic origin that places him in danger:
Okay Obama, don’t claim that no one warned you. If you get elected President and you receive an invitation from your fellow Muslim brother Ahmadinejad to make good on your promise and visit him in Tehran for a tête-à-tête, don’t you do it. BBC’s recent report ought to be enough for you to recant your foolish and naïve promise:
“The European Union has criticized the new penal code being drafted in Iran, particularly a section that imposes the death penalty for giving up Islam...Death for apostasy already exists in Iran under Sharia or “Islamic - law.” But the changes would for the first time bring the punishment into the criminal code. An EU statement expressed deep concern about what it calls the ongoing deterioration in the human rights situation in Iran. It singled out Section Five of the draft penal code currently before the Iranian parliament, imposing the death penalty for apostasy. In the past, Iranian courts have handed down the death penalty in such cases, but have done so relying on Sharia law. If the draft is approved by parliament, the sentence will be formalized in the country's criminal code.”
Who is an apostate according to the legislation? Anyone in the world, not just Iranians, born to a Muslim parent; also, any convert to Islam who leaves it. Only one parent needs to be a Muslim at the time of conception for Islam to own that child for life. Islam is Ummehist. Islam doesn’t recognize nationalities and national boundaries. And these Islamist zealots are very serious and have no sense of humor. Some say they have no sense at all, and they may be right. What they certainly have is a thirst for blood, particularly for the blood of infidels and apostates.
Now some of you may look at Imani's article and think he's exaggerating and that Obama - living in the United States - could never be threatened. Consider the case of "Adam" in the video below (Hat Tip: NY Nana).
UPDATE 10:23 AM
Eliyahu P. points me to this post from Jihad Watch which discusses Obama's 'apostasy' (I'm adding a bit more than Eliyahu put in the comments because I think that Robert Spencer's analysis - written a little over a year ago - is spot on):
So is Obama under a death sentence? Probably not. As far as I know Obama has never explained when he left Islam and became a Christian. This is a crucial point, for according to Islamic law an apostate male is not to be put to death if he has not reached puberty (cf. 'Umdat al-Salik o8.2; Hidayah vol. II p. 246). Some, however, hold that he should be imprisoned until he is of age and then "invited" to accept Islam, but officially the death penalty for youthful apostates is ruled out.
There are several ways this could go with Obama. Fjordman writes, "This is a golden opportunity for American anti-Jihadis to expose the intolerance inherent to Islamic teachings. And it is even better that it is a man from the black community and the political Left, where Muslims find many of their sympathizers."
That is true -- it is an opportunity to call attention to this aspect of Islam that so many are so eager to cover up. However, I think that Obama's candidacy and religious history are more likely to work to the advantage of the Left and the jihadists, even if he flames out a la Howard Dean in 2004. For if the Islamic death penalty for apostasy is even allowed to come up in the mainstream media, smiling Islamic spokesmen will deny that Islam teaches this. They can even be honest and simply affirm that it doesn't apply to Obama at all, since he left Islam while still very young.
I believe it is most likely that the media and Obama's campaign will ignore the apostasy law altogether, and tar anyone who brings it up as a "bigot." The propagandists of CAIR, MPAC et al are quite savvy at portraying themselves as victims in response to presentations of uncomfortable aspects of Islam. And it is virtually inconceivable that there will be protests in the Islamic world over his apostasy, calls for his execution, etc. Remember that the Cartoon Rage and Pope Rage riots were orchestrated from above. The people who orchestrated them know enough not to shoot themselves in the foot. They (as well as Obama's campaign) have a chance here to portray Obama as someone who was raised as a Muslim and thus has a keen understanding of the Islamic world and the Islamic mind -- rather like the positioning of Bill Clinton as our "first black President." Given Obama's politics, it will not be hard to present him internationally as someone who understands Islam and Muslims, and thus will be able to smooth over the hostility between the Islamic world and the West. Muslim leaders worldwide will not be saying, "He was raised a Muslim. Isn't that terrible?" Rather, I suspect that both Obama's campaign and Muslim leaders worldwide will say, "He was raised a Muslim. Isn't that wonderful? At last, someone who can see our point of view."
In short, I will not be surprised if Obama's Muslim upbringing becomes the linchpin of an attempt to present him as the only candidate who can end the war on terror -- which, of course, he will propose to do by means of various varieties of appeasement.
Just like the left is tarring anyone who mentions Obama's middle name as a 'bigot.'
Freedom Fighter reports that President Bush - the man who once told us that you had to be with us or with the terrorists - has named an envoy to the Organization of Islamic Countries, the hate group that enforces the Arab boycott against the State of Israel. How the mighty have fallen! (Hat Tip: Orde)
Eight months ago,in the midst of trying to shove amnesty for illegal aliens down America's collective throat,President Bush took some time off to participate in ceremonies honoring a Saudi funded wahabist outpost within spitting distance of the White House, the Islamic Center of Washington D.C.
While he was there, the president made an extraordinary promise to appoint a US envoy to one of the world’s most bigoted groups, the Organization of the Islamic Conference "to listen and to learn from them" in the words of the current occupant of the White House.
President Bush has finally named an official envoy, a Texas businessman named Sada Cumber whom I believe is Pakistani in origin (degrees from the University of Karachi). He's in the high tech industry, the CEO of SozoTek, a wireless imaging company.
Mr. Cumber aside,the implications of the US naming such an envoy are astounding.
'Palestinian' terrorists use mother and suckling baby as human shields
The phenomenon of 'Palestinian' terrorists using innocent (or not so innocent) civilians as human shields is nothing new. In this video from 1969, IDF soldiers take pity on a woman suckling a baby at the entrance of a Jordan Valley cave in which terrorists were hiding, and the terrorists kill several soldiers as a result.
Israel Radio has just reported from al-Jazeera that an explosion has just occurred next to the home of Ismail Haniyeh. More details to follow as they come in.
UPDATE 5:21 PM
There was an attack on a Hamas police station near Haniyeh's house - not on Haniyeh's house itself. No casualties in that attack. (The report's implication was that the attack came from the IAF, but that was left unsaid).
As rockets continue to fall, even Dichter doesn't get it
Rockets continue to fall in the western Negev today, with a 70-year old woman in Sderot suffering 'light' wounds from shrapnel. A grad rocket - a form of Katyusha - hit a house in Ashkelon today, the first time there has been real damage from a rocket hitting Ashkelon. And all indications are that the 'Palestinians' have longer-range weaponry that they have not yet unsheathed.
Meanwhile, 'Public Security' Minister Avi Dichter (pictured, top left), one of the few ministers I held out hope might 'get it,' proved today that he doesn't.
During his visit, Dichter said that the solution to the rocket problem lies in bolstering Israel's deterrence, not taking over the Gaza Strip.
"All the ideas about conquering Gaza are just not serious. Even if Gaza is taken over tomorrow, it will take years to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. Therefore, bolstering our deterrence, in the first stage, is the most important goal, in order to give the necessary signals so that the other side understands that it [terror activity] simply doesn't pay off," said the public security minister.
What does 'bolstering Israel's deterrence' mean? More hitting empty buildings? More 'targeted killings' of mid-level operatives? Setting up the 'Iron Dome' protection system, which is completely ineffective anyway? When will the government decide that enough is enough?
Why should it take 'years' to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure? Most of it was built in the last two and a half years! Why should it take longer than that to dismantle? And if it takes that long to dismantle it, so be it. How long did it take the allies to undo the effects of fascism in Germany and Japan after World War II? If we don't dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, who will? No one else is going to fight our wars for us! And if we don't start dismantling the terror infrastructure now, how many more people will die and how many more lives will be unlivable until we awaken from our catatonic stupor and decide to start doing it?
Why is conquering Gaza 'not serious'? The only alternative other than conquering Gaza that might put a stop to the rocket fire is to flatten it. Is Dichter willing to do that?
The other side will never 'understand' that terror 'doesn't pay.' First of all, they have seen already that it does pay, because the buffoons with whom Dichter shares power have been falling all over themselves for most of the last fifteen years trying to give land to the 'Palestinians' which the 'Palestinians' believe that they have earned through terror. Ask them. Second, for the 'Palestinians' the terror is an end and not a means. The end is to bring about the coming of the 12th Imam and the 'Palestinians' believe they can bring that about by committing suicide and murdering Jews just as they could bring it about by actually defeating us. The terror has become an end in itself. Third, there are limits to how long our own people will put up with living the way they are living in Sderot, and when they leave the 'Palestinians' will once again see that terror does pay. I wouldn't raise my children in Sderot today. And neither would most other people who could afford not to. Most of the people who can afford to leave Sderot have left already because they feel that the government has abandoned them. I can't blame them. You only live once and you only raise your kids once: Why raise your kids in a bunker mentality if you don't have to? What makes Dichter think that thousands more won't leave Sderot as a result of the current round of fighting?
But it's not just the government. It's also those who would be the government. As many of you know, I thought that Boogie Yaalon would make a great Prime Minister. Then I read this from him over the weekend:
Although there are no clear answers to these dilemmas, there are certain principles that we must always follow, even when confronted with a terrorist threat. First, the use of force should be a last resort; second, targeted killing should be the last resort of the use of force; and third, when we are forced to kill, we should do so as surgically and decisively as possible. All three principles aim to impart the same message: That terrorism does not pay.
To this end, the IDF has a three-pronged test for evaluating prospective operations. First, we consider how the army itself--soldiers and commanders--will perceive its own actions. This is often referred to as the “mirror test”--will we be able to look ourselves in the mirror after the operation?--and is concerned primarily with morality. Second, we consider how the society we wish to defend will perceive our actions; this is where both moral and political considerations abound. And third, we consider how our actions will be perceived internationally; here, political considerations dominate.
Fourth, there is the constant need to combat the logic of “the ends justify the means.” Our war is legitimate, it is in self-defense, and it is about survival. Therefore, say many soldiers, any and all means should be used to win it. To counter this way of thinking, we try to instill in our soldiers the understanding that our objective is not only to win, but to win with the knowledge that we have upheld our society’s morality. We teach our soldiers that a justly fought war is the only kind of war worth winning, and that they will be evaluated for not only whether they achieved their goals, but how they achieved them.
I'm not arguing in favor of deliberately killing women and children. But in fighting an enemy that has no morals and that targets our civilians, I think we need to be more concerned with keeping our own soldiers and civilians alive and less concerned with how many of their civilians - many of whom actively support the terrorists - die in the process. Shoot first, ask questions later when there's a ticking time bomb in front of you. We're in a war, not a game of Stratego.
Let's face it: The reason the IDF isn't in Gaza today is because sending the IDF into Gaza would mean hundreds of 'Palestinian' civilian casualties. Instead, we have allowed life to become unbearable for Sderot and the other communities that are near Gaza, and soon for Ashkelon and maybe others as well. Why would anyone choose to raise their children that way? If the IDF had gone into Gaza the first time a Kassam came out after the expulsion, Roni Yihye (who was the victim yesterday) would be alive, Osher Twito would have two legs, and Yossi Haimov would have two usable arms. The government of Israel is supposed to protect Israelis - not 'Palestinians.' The most basic duty any government has is to protect its own people. The Olmert-Barak-Livni junta has not only failed in that duty, it has abandoned that duty. And unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be anything much better waiting on the horizon.
Noted conservative thinker William F. Buckley, Jr. passed away yesterday. At Little Green Footballs this morning, Charles Johnson has posted a quote from Buckley: "Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive." Reality is all-too-rapidly approaching us. It's time for the government to tone down the idealism and make preserving our own people the priority. Before it's too late.
Video of aftermath of Wednesday night IAF attacks on Gaza
This is a video that mostly shows the aftermath this morning of last night's IAF attacks on Gaza. Please watch it and then I have some comments.
Note that at the end of the video they say that five more Kassams were shot at Sderot this morning. Is the pattern familiar to any of you? It should be. It's the same pattern we were in two summers ago in Lebanon: We hit with pinpoint air strikes and they hit back with indiscriminate rocket attacks. We can't win like this.
There are two options. One is a Dresden-like bombing from the air that will so devastate the 'Palestinians' that they will have no choice but to surrender. The other is to send in the ground troops and occupy Gaza. A combination of the two might also work. The alternative is to God forbid move everyone to a small radius around Tel Aviv and to start giving swimming lessons.
I found this video very difficult to watch. Unfortunately, it is only in Hebrew, but I think the first minute or two will be understood by all.
On Monday, in Sderot, ten-year old Yossi Haimov was severely wounded by shrapnel that nearly severed his arm. Thank God, doctors have succeeded in saving the arm, but he will need much surgery to restore its functioning, including reconstructive shoulder surgery. This video begins with Yossi and his sister apparently having just run into a small grocery store where they apparently went to seek shelter after the Kassam hit on the way home from school. You will see his eight-year old sister screaming and crying, while the stoic Yossi (amazing) doesn't cry at all. They tell him not to move the arm, and then they tie it to him to immobilize it, pick him up and put him in the ambulance. You will see the sister insist on going to the hospital with him in the ambulance, you will see a paramedic calm her down, and then you will see an interview with their mother in the hospital with the younger sister sitting nearby saying that she wants to leave Sderot but that their father wants to stay there. Once the subtitles go away, the video is less interesting and just shows reporters standing around Sderot.
The report came from Channel 10 (cable television) news on Monday night, and you are forewarned that I found it very difficult emotionally to watch it.
Al-Beeb video on 'Palestinian' infant killed while shielding Haniyeh's office
The following is an al-Beeb report which mainly focuses on an infant who was allegedly killed in the strike on Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh's office last night. Let's note the media bias in this film. First, it says that US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has 'condemned the bloodshed' and called for 'Palestinian' rocket attacks to stop. But what Rice said was actually a bit more nuanced in Israel's favor:
"We have to remember that the Hamas activities there are responsible for what has happened in Gaza - the illegal coup that they led against the legitimate institutions of the Palestinian Authority," she added. "It is very clear where this started."
Rice, asked whether she told Olmert not to use disproportionate force in Gaza, dismissed the question.
"I think that's not a good way to address this issue," she said, then repeated her call for calm on both sides. "The issue is that the rocket attacks need to stop, there needs to be due concern for the humanitarian situation in Gaza, there needs to be a durable way to deal with crossing."
Mind you she's still pushing the 'road map' as a means of ending the 'cycle of violence' but keep in mind that Condi backed Israel's activities in Lebanon two summers ago and it is not inconceivable that she would back an 'invasion' of Gaza. (Yes, I know, for all the wrong reasons, since she would then - like Livni - want to put NATO forces in there).
Another piece of media bias in this video is the statement that the rocket that hit Sapir College and killed a man was one of 'more than 20' shot yesterday. In fact, it was one of about 50.
Last night or this morning (I can't tell the difference anymore), I mentioned that Purim is coming up soon. On Purim, we all dress up in costumes and celebrate a day on which everything is turned upside down.
Do you have a moonbat in your life who needs a costume for Purim? Do you want to offend them? I have an idea for you. If enough of you are interested, I will arrange to put the graphic below (copyrighted to LeePro and me - sorry) on a t-shirt and you can give it to the moonbat in your life to wear as their Purim costume. In fact, if enough people are interested in ordering, I'll buy one for the family member who suggested to my wife that she see Fahrenheit 911 when we were in the US in the summer of 2004. Anyway, here's the logo, and you can all let me know (or not let me know) what you think of it:
'Moderate' Abu Mazen doesn't rule out return to 'armed resistance'
George Bush, Condi Rice and Ehud K. Olmert's favorite 'moderate' terrorist - Mahmoud AbbasAbu MazenBluff - told a Jordanian newspaper that he's proud of having been the first to shoot at Israel (in 1965 - before there was an 'occupation'), and of his organization having trained Hezbullah, and that he does not rule out a return to the path of 'armed resistance.'
In an interview with the Jordanian daily al-Dustur, Abbas said that he was opposed to an armed struggle against Israel - for the time being.
"At this present juncture, I am opposed to the armed struggle because we can't succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different," he said.
The PA president also expressed pride both in himself and his organization, Fatah, for trailblazing the path of resistance.
"I had the honor of firing the first shot in 1965 and of being the one who taught resistance to many in the region and around the world; what it's like; when it is effective and when it isn't effective; its uses, and what serious, authentic and influential resistance is," Abbas said.
"It is common knowledge when and how resistance is detrimental and when it is well timed," he addad. "We (Fatah) had the honor of leading the resistance and we taught resistance to everyone, including Hizbullah, who trained in our military camps."
Could someone please remind me why this guy is any different than Arafat, who also kept the terror option in his back pocket when he was 'making peace.' But give them a statereichlet in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, with 'free passage' between them, and they'll be happy and let us be a 'normal country.' Right Ehud?
The hearing regarding the doctored video of the staged death of Mohamed al-Dura ended about an hour ago in a Paris courtroom and I have this report from HonestReporting:
"It was a fight of the institutional thinking," said Mozes. "The strongest argument France 2 could come up with is that Charles Enderlin is an institution in this country. They said that [Jamal] Al-Dura was visited by King Hussein, which shows how important this case is. France 2 wanted to show how respected personalities participated. They hardly challenged the facts and preferred to play up the players and institutions involved."
Mozes said the French TV network's lawyers also sought to discredit Karsenty with handwriting analysis, treating him him as lightweight. "They ridiculed him, like, how dare he criticize an institution like France 2" Mozes said.
Will the three-judge panel break from the conventional wisdom? That's the million dollar question. "It'll require a lot of courage," Mozes said, crediting Judge Laurence Trebucq for giving Karsenty time and leeway to show all the material he wanted.
One of the evening's surprises was Charles Enderlin's revelation that he relied on the Shin Bet's assessment of cameraman Talal Abu Rama (pictured, right).
You can tell that Ehud Barak is Defense Minister because we're bombing empty buildings again. This time it's the office of former 'Palestinian Prime Minister' Ismail Haniyeh (pictured, top left):
IAF aircraft struck the empty office of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and nearby premises of his Interior Ministry Wednesday night, hours after rocket attacks from Gaza killed a student at Sapir College in Sderot.
Hamas security officials said missiles fired from helicopters hit the buildings, sited in downtown residential neighborhoods, wounding around 25 local residentshuman shields [CiJ] and two Hamas security guards patrolling on the street. The IDF had no immediate comment.
/Got to hurry up and do this before Valdemert can get back from Japan.
Hamas English-language propaganda about today's 'martyrs'
Here's a Hamas propaganda report from the English-language Press TV regarding the ten 'martyrs' who were killed today in the Gaza Strip. Note that there is no mention of what any of these people might have been doing other than 'resisting the occupation.' Warning - some of this is a bit gory.
Here's part of the report that accompanies the video:
The latest flare-up came as Israeli helicopter gunships fired two missiles at a van with Hamas gunmen travelling in the sand dunes near the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis.
Five members of Hamas' armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, were killed and three injured, Gaza emergency services chief Mo'aweya Hassanein said.
That airstrike came after militants in Gaza launched 17 rockets at southern Israel in the past two days, moderately injuring a 10-year- old Israeli boy who had his arm shattered by shrapnel in the town of Sderot.
But Hamas in turn responded to Wednesday morning's airstrike by unleashing a barrage of as many as 35 rockets at Sderot, just north- east of Gaza, the coastal city of Ashqelon and their surroundings in the afternoon and evening.
One rocket struck the parking lot of a college on Sderot's outskirts, killing 47-year-old Israeli and lightly injuring another. Five other people were treated for shock, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Another rocket struck an electricity cable in Ashqelon, knocking out power, while yet another also fell near the city's Barzilai hospital, where wounded from the rocket attacks in Sderot are regularly being evacuated.
A projectile also directly hit a house in a Sderot residential neighbourhood, while another penetrated the dining room of a chicken factory in an industrial zone on the town's outskirts, which was empty at the time, residents said.
Israel vowed to continue its airstrikes and ground incursions into the Gaza Strip aimed at curbing the rocket attacks, and said it would use 'whatever means necessary' to stop them.
And in the early evening, it launched two more airstrikes, one of which killed two Hamas militants busy launching rockets east of Gaza City.
The other killed three Palestinian civilians, among them two children aged 12 and 13, who stood near a rocket launcher set up and being made ready in north-western Gaza City, Hassanein said. [Why were children standing near a rocket launcher? Human shields? CiJ]
'This murderous rocket attack will be met with continuous Israeli measures to protect our citizens,' Israeli government spokesman David Baker said. 'Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip are determined to kill and maim our civilians,' he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
But Hamas blamed Israel, and also accused Abbas of 'inciting the Zionist occupation to shed more blood in the Gaza Strip' by calling in Cairo Tuesday to end the daily rocket attacks.
Abbas had told a joint news conference with Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak the rocket fire provided Israel with an 'excuse' for its military operations in and economic blockade of Gaza.
Ehad al-Ghussain, the spokesman of the de-facto, Hamas-led Interior Ministry in Gaza, urged Abbas to end his 'absurd negotiations' with the 'Zionist enemy.'
Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, issued a statement condemning the Israeli attacks in Gaza and Nablus, saying Israel's 'aggression' did not 'serve the peace process nor negotiations.'
The cartoon at the top comes from the inimitable Cox and Forkum. It's an old cartoon and I miss those guys.
The Hamas jihadis have advised the people of Gaza to boil their water because they have run out of chlorine with which to purify it. According to a report on Israel Radio's 8:00 news, about one third of the wells in Gaza are already untreated, and there is no chlorine with which to treat the rest when the current supply runs out. Here's more.
The Gaza Strip's water provider on Wednesday urged the area's 1.5 million residents to boil their drinking water, blaming a shortage of purifying chlorine on Israel's blockade of the strip.
Israel Defense Forces said no Palestinian request for chlorine was made until Wednesday, and it was urgently trying to arrange a new Of shipment into Gaza. [Wednesday. As in today. They didn't know they were running out? CiJ]
The Coastal Municipality Water Utility informed residents that sanctions have left Gaza without equipment and supplies needed to maintain the water system and chlorine deliveries stopped on January 21. More than one-third of Gaza's water supply is now untreated, said deputy director Maher Najjar, amid concern over a health disaster due to possible contamination. He appealed to the international community for help.
Most Gaza residents do not have regular water supplies because of a shortage of fuel used to pump water. Many already use filters or buy bottled water because the quality of tap water is generally poor.
Najjar said 52 of 140 wells used to supply water to Gaza residents were out of chlorine. "I expect by the week's end all the wells will run dry of chlorine," he said.
Nafiz Alia, the utility's chlorine supplier said 65 tons of chlorine were needed per month and the last shipment into Gaza contained 30 tons forcing him to use reserve stock to make up the rest.
An IDF spokesperson said Israel only received a request from the Palestinians for chlorine on Wednesday. "We are doing our best to allow the chlorine to enter the Gaza Strip as soon as possible," the spokesperson said, adding that it's a shame the Palestinians waited so long to notify Israel.
About 100 wells in Gaza lack diesel fuel to power pumps used during frequent power outages. "When the electricity goes out, the water is knocked out as well," Najjar said.
Most Gaza residents who can afford to do so filter Gaza's salty, brackish tap water before drinking it. However, Najjar said that this does not kill the bacteria.
He said the real danger lay in children drinking untreated water.
Of course, with all those billions of dollars in international aid they've received over the last fifteen years, it never occurred to them to build a real water carrier.
Endre Mozes of HonestReporting-Take A Pen just called from the courthouse during a brief break in today's legal proceedings between Philippe Karsenty and France 2. Karsenty is making a lengthy presentation about the al-Dura video, a presentation Mozes says has been well-documented.
The IDF attacked a cell of five terrorists in Shchem (Nablus) this morning, killing one, wounding three and capturing one. But this cell wasn't supposed to be on the streets at all. You see, they'd been 'arrested' by the good terrorists of the 'Palestinian Authority.'
IDF officials reported Wednesday that a group of Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorists targeted in an operation earlier in the day had been under Palestinian Authority protection. The five terrorists were officially under PA arrest, officials explained, but in reality were free to wander the city of Shechem and plan attacks. They were living in an apartment belonging to PA security forces and were plotting a terror attack in revenge for the recent death of senior Fatah terrorist Ahmed Sankara.
The General Security Services (Shabak), IDF, and Border Police worked together to carry out the operation on Wednesday. Senior Tanzim terrorist Ibrahim Saimi was killed while trying to flee from soldiers, and three of the other terrorists were wounded. The wounded terrorists were taken to Israeli hospitals, while the fifth terrorist was arrested and taken in for questioning.
Breaking: Kassams hit Ashkelon - One hits Barzilay Hospital (UPDATED)
Israel Radio has just reported that four Kassam rockets have landed in Ashkelon in the last half hour. One of them landed in an open area on the campus of Barzilay Hospital, which is where most Kassam victims from Sderot are taken. More to follow. I'm trying to be in Live Blog mode.
UPDATE 7:00 PM
Israel Radio is reporting five more rockets shot in the last hour, one lightly wounded in Ashkelon. It wasn't clear to me how many rockets hit where, but they may be hiding that on purpose. Ashkelon is now without power in some places because a rocket hit a high tension wire.
Yitzchak Cohen of Shas has called on the Defense Minister to cut off all electricity and water to Gaza tonight. Don't hold your breaths waiting for that to happen.
Abu Mazen is trying to convince Israel to stop targeting terrorists in Gaza and to open the borders. No chance that will happen.
Here's video of what appears to be the poultry factory that was hit in Sderot today.
Sorry it took so long for this update - Israel Radio's 'news station' had a lengthy sports magazine and I doubt most of you are interested in Israeli soccer.
It looks like there's going to be a war tonight down south. More than forty rockets have been shot at the western Negev by 'Palestinian' terrorists today.
An Israeli was killed today when a Kassam rocket struck Sapir College in Sderot. The Kassam was one of nearly thirty that was shot at Sderot and other towns in the western Negev today.
One Israeli was killed and two others wounded by shrapnel after a Kassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit the grounds of Sapir College in the western Negev.
Several other people were reported in shock. Army Radio reported that everyone present on the college campus was being shepherded into sheltered areas.
The rocket that struck the college's parking lot was one of a barrage of six fired late Wednesday afternoon, two of which landed in Sderot. One rocket hit and caused severe damage to a residential building in the city's Neveh Eshkol neighborhood. No one was wounded.
A total of 16 Kassam rockets were launched at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip Wednesday afternoon.
Barely an hour earlier, a barrage of 11 rockets slammed into the western Negev town, sending four people into shock. One hit a factory cafeteria, shortly after some 100 workers had left the room. The building sustained serious damage.
The 'factory' was a poultry processing plant (Oaf Tov - Good Birds).
But Israel can't invade Gaza this week. Valdemert is busy in Japan.
Meanwhile, doctors have succeeded in saving the arm of ten-year old Yossi Haimov, who was hit by a Kassam on Monday, but he will need reconstructive surgery on his shoulder and many other surgeries.
UPDATE 5:02 PM
Israel Radio has just reported that the person killed at Sapir College was a thirty-year old man who was killed by a direct hit on his car.
The Knesset has passed a bill in first reading to restrict access to web sites. The way Arutz Sheva is reporting this story is not quite the way it's been reported on the radio. The radio doesn't mention an 'opt out' for adults (and I don't know how you 'prove' that a computer user is an adult). It doesn't mention pornography either.
My problem with most of the 'filtering services' that have been introduced until now is that they are low tech: The default is that a site is banned until someone has gone and viewed it. With thousands of new sites being put up every day, there is no way anyone can view them fast enough.
Unfortunately, there is pornography all over the Internet and if parents want to keep their children off those kinds of sites, they either have to keep the Internet out of the house (not practical for those of us who work at home) or keep their kids off the computer except under very close supervision (which is what Mrs. Carl and I do). Ironically, with three computers on from the end of one Sabbath to the beginning of the next, Mrs. Carl and I are the first ones to complain every time a kid comes home and claims that a teacher wants an assignment "typed on the computer."
Let's face it: Sites like YouTube and LiveLeak have lots of worthwhile stuff but also have stuff that borders on pornography and worse (think how many times you see the words "(not) office safe" in the comment sections of even the most unrelated blogs). Will they be banned in Israel?
But anything goes to keep Shas in the government (note the bill's sponsor).
According to the bill, which passed by a majority of 46 to 20, Internet service providers would be asked to implement an apparatus that would filter out sites deemed "harmful". [Note - No mention of pornography or anything else. The 'Minister of Communications' - whoever that may be - has the power to decide what's 'harmful.' What if he decides Little Green Footballs is harmful? CiJ]
The decision on the filtering of specific sites will ultimately be in the hands of the communications minister, who will be aided by an advisory committee. [Currently that's someone from Shas. In the past, it's been people from all over the political spectrum. What if someone decides that Hot Air is harmful? CiJ]
The letter of the law, proposed by MK Amnon Cohen of Shas, calls for the erection of a "filtering service for minors of inappropriate content on the Internet." Specifically, the bill advocates the censorship of "violence, pornography and gambling" Websites. [Does YouTube qualify? Does Liveleak? How can a minor use a gambling website anyway? Doesn't that require a credit card? CiJ]
Under the new law Internet service providers would be forced to offer a filtering program to their customers free of charge. Consumers would be given the chance to refuse to install the program, but it would be installed by default if a customer did not provide a response within a time frame that has yet to be finalized. [We ignore most mail in Hebrew except for bank and credit card statements and other bills. Lots of Israelis don't understand Hebrew. This is a country of immigrants. CiJ].
The law also states that as soon as the technology will be made available, providers will block content on their end, unlocking it only to customers over the age of 18 who explicitly request to receive the "harmful" content.
The communications minister will also be granted the power to decide on changes to the blocking program, the manner of communication between providers and their customers and even the way in which providers will verify the age of a customer requesting the unlocking of content.
While Cohen hailed the approval of his bill as "a victory for common sense," adding that, now "instead of parents having to actively block their children from viewing hard pornography and violence, pornography enthusiasts will have to be active and make only one phone call," other MKs voiced concern that the law would ultimately result in severe infringements of personal freedoms.
"Internet service providers, according to the worldwide norm, would be willing to distribute free of charge a family filtering program," MK Gilad Erdan said. "The law will transform us into a type of Iran by giving the minister the authority to decide that the Shas Council of Torah Sages will determine the sites to be rejected and blocked - without any supervision or monitoring of its considerations by the Knesset."
Erdan also slammed Labor MKs Danny Yaton, Yoram Marziano, Nadya Hilu and Ephraim Sneh for voting in favor of the law, claiming that the Labor party had become a "superfluous appendage" of Kadima.
I'm with Erdan on this. It's not that I would let my kids see 'harmful' sites (and not that I would look at pornographic content at those sites myself - see above). But with my American upbringing and knowing how corrupt the government is here, I have a real problem with letting the Israeli government or any of its ministries decide what I am going to see on the Internet.
The fund transfer was approved by the committee last week, but immediately after the vote, Committee Chairman Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Knesset Member Chaim Oron (Meretz) decided on a repeated voting.
On Tuesday, Misezhnikov decided to withdraw his request to hold a repeated voting after Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai promised to increase the budget of his ministry's business tutoring project to NIS 17 million ($4.7 million).
The committee voted on the budgetary transfer as per MK Oron's request and approved it.
Four MKs voted in favor of the fund allocation: Yitzhak Vaknin and Amon Cohen (Shas), Nissan Slomiansky (National Union-National Religious Party) and Elhanan Glazer (Pensioners Party). Oron and MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) voted against it.
I have no idea why Slomiansky (who is in the opposition) voted in favor and why Misezhnikov was apparently absent.
For those wondering NIS 475 million is about $131.5 million these days.
Barack Obama's record speaks for itself. He has longstanding support among the Jewish community in Illinois, who know first hand his unshakable commitment to Israel's security. In the US Senate, he has established himself as a strong friend of Israel. As a candidate, he has made clear his commitment to deepen the US-Israel relationship and to defend Israel's security as a Jewish state.
Yet Senator Obama is still the target of poorly sourced smears and innuendo, often anonymously circulated in mass e-mails. Sadly, these baseless attacks have been transformed into official Republican talking points. In his February 21, 2008 JPost.com op-ed ("Obama and the Jews") Marc Zell, the Co-Chairman of Republicans Abroad in Israel, compiled a greatest hits of fiction and distortion about Barack Obama culled from one false email after another.
Wexler goes on to try to answer several points that have been used to attack Obama. But I'd like to note two points that Wexler does not address that are among the most troublesome about Obama. The first is Obama's relationship with Ali Abunimah, one of the founders of the Electronic Intifada - an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate site - who had the following to say about Obama:
Ali Abunimah gives us a hint of where Obama's real loyalties may lie:
The last time I spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. He was in the midst of a primary campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing.
As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, "Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping when things calm down I can be more up front." He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and US policy, "Keep up the good work!"
And Abunimah suggests that Obama's courting of Israel supporters is insincere and just a matter of electoral convenience:
But Obama's gradual shift into the AIPAC camp had begun as early as 2002 as he planned his move from small time Illinois politics to the national scene. In 2003, Forward reported on how he had "been courting the pro-Israel constituency." He co-sponsored an amendment to the Illinois Pension Code allowing the state of Illinois to lend money to the Israeli government. Among his early backers was Penny Pritzker -- now his national campaign finance chair -- scion of the liberal but staunchly Zionist family that owns the Hyatt hotel chain. (The Hyatt Regency hotel on Mount Scopus was built on land forcibly expropriated from Palestinian owners after Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967). He has also appointed several prominent pro-Israel advisors.
Obama has also been close to some prominent Arab Americans, and has received their best advice. His decisive trajectory reinforces a lesson that politically weak constituencies have learned many times: access to people with power alone does not translate into influence over policy. Money and votes, but especially money, channelled through sophisticated and coordinated networks that can "bundle" small donations into million dollar chunks are what buy influence on policy. Currently, advocates of Palestinian rights are very far from having such networks at their disposal. Unless they go out and do the hard work to build them, or to support meaningful campaign finance reform, whispering in the ears of politicians will have little impact. (For what it's worth, I did my part. I recently met with Obama's legislative aide, and wrote to Obama urging a more balanced policy towards Palestine.)
If disappointing, given his historically close relations to Palestinian-Americans, Obama's about-face is not surprising. He is merely doing what he thinks is necessary to get elected and he will continue doing it as long as it keeps him in power. Palestinian-Americans are in the same position as civil libertarians who watched with dismay as Obama voted to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, or immigrant rights advocates who were horrified as he voted in favor of a Republican bill to authorize the construction of a 700-mile fence on the border with Mexico.
Is Obama pro-Israel or is he looking to get elected? And if he's looking to get elected, will he have to be as pro-Israel on a national scale as he would have to be to stand a chance in the Jewish suburbs of Chicago? Clearly not.
The second point that Wexler does not address is Samantha Power. Wexler goes through the usual list of suspects whose names have been mentioned as being part of Obama's foreign policy team (Brzezinski, Malley, Lake and Susan Rice) and either claims that they are not on the team or that their advice has been 'unsolicited.' Power's name isn't even mentioned. Power - a professor at Harvard - actually does work for the Obama campaign and may be Obama's national security adviser. Here's how Power said she would advise 'the President' if she were his national security adviser:
A follow-up to my post yesterday about the troubling views of one of Barack Obama’s top foreign policy advisers, Samantha Power. In 2002 she sat for an interview with Harry Kreisler, the director of the Institute for International Studies at Berkeley. Kreisler asked her the following question:
Let me give you a thought experiment here, and it is the following: without addressing the Palestine - Israel problem, let’s say you were an advisor to the President of the United States, how would you respond to current events there? Would you advise him to put a structure in place to monitor that situation, at least if one party or another [starts] looking like they might be moving toward genocide?
Get a load of Power’s response:
What we don’t need is some kind of early warning mechanism there, what we need is a willingness to put something on the line in helping the situation. Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import; it may more crucially mean sacrificing — or investing, I think, more than sacrificing — billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably take, also, to support what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence. Because it seems to me at this stage (and this is true of actual genocides as well, and not just major human rights abuses, which were seen there), you have to go in as if you’re serious, you have to put something on the line. [Emphasis mine. CiJ]
Just so we’re clear here: Power said that her advice to the President would be to 1) “Alienate” the American Jewish community, and indeed all Americans, such as evangelical Christians, who support the state of Israel, because 2) Israeli leaders are “destroying the lives of their own people.” 3) Pour billions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money into “the new state of Palestine”; 4) Stage an American ground invasion of Israel and the Palestinian territories — what else can she mean by a “mammoth protection force” and a “military presence” that will be “imposed” by “external intervention”? — in order to do the exact same thing that she considers the height of arrogance and foolishness in Iraq: an American campaign to remake an Arab society.
Note that this wasn’t her response to a question about her personal views of the conflict, or about what she envisions might be a utopian solution to the conflict; it was a response to a question about what she would tell the President of the United States if she was his adviser. Yesterday Barack Obama took a large stride toward the presidency–helped in some small measure by the speeches on behalf of the Obama campaign that Power has delivered–and it is time that someone asked him, while he is still a candidate, what he thinks of the perverse things his many foreign policy advisers have said about Israel and the Middle East.
Wexler ignores these points because he has no answer to them. Instead, he personally attacks Zell.
Unfortunately, Zell is more interested in using falsehoods to win an election than standing up for Israel and American-Israeli relations. But across America, Jewish voters have had no trouble sorting out fact from fiction, and have found no cause to shy away from supporting Barack Obama. Indeed, they are rallying to his campaign in ever-growing numbers, inspired by his leadership, judgment, and the possibility he represents for truly transformational leadership. Nothing that Marc Zell says can change that.
Zell, who lives in a Jewish town in Judea, is nothing if not an advocate for Israel and an American patriot. He has lived in Israel for nearly twenty years and spends much of his law practice on a who's who of clients who are involved in Israel advocacy (I'll throw out just one example: MEMRI). To accuse Marc of being more interested in using falsehoods to win an election than in standing up for Israel and American-Israeli relationships is a charge that is simply beyond absurd.
Does Wexler have an answer to the two points he skipped? I doubt it. Would Wexler vote Republican if he were convinced that the Democratic candidate would sell Israel down the river? I doubt that too. So who is he to criticize Marc Zell?
Car swarm: Five terrorists killed in Gaza ! Let's go to the videotape!
Five Hamas terrorists were killed this morning around 9:00 AM in an IAF strike in southern Gaza near Khan Yunis.
An IAF air strike targeting a minivan in southern Gaza on Wednesday killed five Hamas gunmen, including a senior rocket engineer and a regional rocket squad commander, the group said.
Two other gunmen were wounded, Hamas said. The attack took place as the vehicle drove on Gaza's coastal road near Khan Yunis.
Minutes after the first explosion, another missile struck a car nearby. Witnesses said the gunmen had abandoned that vehicle for the minivan shortly before the strike. There were no casualties in the second attack.
The IDF confirmed the attack, saying it had been conducted in cooperation with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and was targeting gunmen. It gave no further details.
I have two videos for you. The first one is a news report with a little bit of the car swarm. The second one is raw footage of the car swarm itself. Let's go to the videotape! Here's the first video:
Israel has to respond 'disproportionately' to rockets on Sderot
In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens did a brilliant job of showing why Israel's only real option in Gaza is a 'disproportionate' one (Hat Tip: Israpundit):
The more vexing question, both morally and strategically, is what Israel ought to do about Gaza. The standard answer is that Israel's response to the Kassams ought to be "proportionate." What does that mean? Does the "proportion" apply to the intention of those firing the Kassams -- to wit, indiscriminate terror against civilian populations? In that case, a "proportionate" Israeli response would involve, perhaps, firing 2,500 artillery shells at random against civilian targets in Gaza. Or should proportion apply to the effects of the Kassams -- an exquisitely calibrated, eye-for-eye operation involving the killing of a dozen Palestinians and the deliberate maiming or traumatizing of several hundred more?
Surely this isn't what advocates of proportion have in mind. What they really mean is that Israel ought to respond with moderation. But the criteria for moderation are subjective. Should Israel pick off Hamas leaders who are ordering the rocket attacks? The European Parliament last week passed a resolution denouncing the practice of targeted assassinations. Should Israel adopt purely economic measures to punish Hamas for the Kassams? The same resolution denounced what it called Israel's "collective punishment" of Palestinians. Should Israel seek to dismantle the Kassams through limited military incursions? This, too, has the unpardonable effect of resulting in too many Palestinian casualties, which are said to be "disproportionate" to the number of Israelis injured by the Kassams.
By these lights, Israel's presumptive right to self-defense has no practical application as far as Gaza is concerned. Instead, Israel is counseled to allow goods to flow freely into the Strip, and to negotiate a cease-fire with Hamas.
But here another set of considerations intrudes. Hamas was elected democratically and by overwhelming margins in Gaza. It has never once honored a cease-fire with Israel. Following Israel's withdrawal of its soldiers and settlements from the Strip in 2005 there was a six-fold increase in the number of Kassam strikes on Israel.
It would seem perverse for Israeli taxpayers, including residents of Sderot, to feed the mouth that bites them. It would seem equally perverse for Israel merely to bide its time for an especially unlucky day -- a Kassam hitting a busload of schoolchildren, for instance -- before striking hard at Gaza. But unless Israel is willing to accept the military, political and diplomatic burdens of occupying all or parts of Gaza indefinitely, the effects of a major military incursion could be relatively short-lived. Israel suffered many more casualties before it withdrew from the Strip than it has since.
Perhaps the answer is to wait for a technological fix and, in the meantime, hope for the best. Israel is at work on a missile-defense program called "Iron Dome" that may be effective against Kassams, though the system won't be in place for at least two years. It could also purchase land-based models of the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System, used by the U.S. to defend the Green Zone in Baghdad.
But technology addresses neither the Islamic fanaticism that animates Hamas nor the moral torpor of Western policy makers and commentators who, on balance, find more to blame in Israel's behavior than in Hamas's. Nor, too, would an Iron Dome or the Phalanx absolve the Israeli government from the necessity of punishing those who seek its destruction. Prudence is an important consideration of statesmanship, but self-respect is vital. And no self-respecting nation can allow the situation in Sderot to continue much longer, a point it is in every civilized country's interest to understand.
Read the whole thing - the last line is a killer (especially for those with a feel for American history).
In the long term, there is no way to give the residents of Sderot a normal life other than having the IDF be in Gaza. We've seen that time and time again. But IDF casualties don't have to be higher if we're willing to put a priority on protecting our soldiers instead of the willing human shields that protect the terrorists. The Geneva Convention allows us to do that. And Hamas doesn't fight like a conventional army.
Of course, that's something that the Olmert-Barak-Livni junta will never do, and that's why there's so much opposition to going into Gaza on anything other than a very short-term basis. The choices Olmert leaves us are - God forbid - to let civilians die in Sderot (eventually - it's just a matter of time) or to let soldiers be killed in Gaza (almost a certainty if an invasion happens and the IDF prioritizes protecting 'civilians' who are acting as human shields). That's a Hobson's choice if I ever heard one, but one that is going to have to be made if we are to have any chance of giving Sderot peace and quiet. Alternatively, we might 'evacuate' Sderot like we did with Gaza, and wait to see where we are attacked next. Olmert might like that option better.
Likud MK Yuli Edelstein, a former 'prisoner of conscience' in the Soviet Union, turned Democratic frontrunner Barack Hussein Obama's comments about the Likud earlier today upside down.
Likud MK Yuli Edelstein gave a positive twist Tuesday to the negative comments about his party that were made on Monday by Obama while campaigning in Ohio, that to be pro-Israeli one did not have to be pro-Likud.
Edelstein said Obama's comments only proved what he had known all along, that his party was pro-Israel and patriotic.
Obama had said, "I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel, then you're anti-Israel, and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel."
In response, Edelstein said, "I am glad that there is the general perception that to be pro-Israel is pro Likud."
"I am glad that the general feeling in the American Jewish community is that the Likud expresses the real patriotic Zionist position," he added. But support for the state was broader then that, Edelstein said.
"In the complex situation of the Middle East, to be pro-Israel is not just to say that you are in favor of a secure and flourishing state of Israel. It is to take a stand on our battle with terrorism and terrorists and to realize that in this battle there are good guys and bad guys, and it is not shameful to be on the same side as the good guys," Edelstein said.
I'm afraid Obama hasn't picked a side yet. Or has he?
Barack Hussein Obama, the frontrunner for the Democratic Presidential nomination, entered Israeli politics today, saying that one need not be 'pro-Likud' to be pro-Israel.
"I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud ap-proach to Israel, then you're anti-Israel, and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel," leading Democratic presidential contender Illinois Senator Barack Obama said Sunday.
"If we cannot have an honest dialogue about how do we achieve these goals, then we're not going to make progress," he said.
He also criticized the notion that anyone who asks tough questions about advancing the peace process or tries to secure Israel by anyway other than "just crushing the opposition" is being "soft or anti-Israel."
Obama made the comments in a closed-door meeting with several members of Cleveland's Jewish community, who will be participating in the crucial Ohio primary to be held next Tuesday.
You may not have to be pro-Likud to be pro-Israel, but in Obama's case there are so many other reasons to doubt his commitment to the Jewish state that the criticism is in place.
Obama's criticism of Hillary Clinton for voting to classify the 'Guards' as a terrorist organization is just the latest in a series of actions that taken alone might not mean anything, but taken together point to a level of indifference and potential hostility to Israel not seen in the White House since the Carter administration. Those actions include the following:
The dispatch of his chief foreign policy adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, to Damascus yesterday, as reported in full by Debbie Schlussel, just the latest episode in his embrace of the State sponsors of terror in Iran and Syria.
His continued embrace of Harvard radical Samantha Power, who in the aftermath of the phony 'massacre' in Jenin in 2002 was upset that the New York Times did not headline 'war crimes' after Human Rights Watch found that no 'massacre' occurred.
His strong support for 'Palestinian rights,' which took a back seat out of necessity when he ran for the Senate from Illinois, a state with a relatively large and politically active Jewish population, but which is in all likelihood still a part of his political make-up and would be a part of White House policy in an Obama administration.
His continued embrace of groups like the Sojourners and his choice of Jeremiah Wright as his pastor and religious adviser.
His speech to the National Jewish Democratic Council about the need for a 'tough discussion' with Israel about working toward a 'two-state solution.'
... with this much smoke coming out of Obama's campaign, there has to be a fire, and that fire doesn't love Jews or Israel.
The Post goes on to report that Obama is trying to defend himself against some of the criticism leveled above.
He also again noted his disagreement with some of the critical statements on Israel made by the pastor of his church, which he ascribed to the latter's support for the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa at a time that Israel continued to trade with the regime there.
"He is like an old uncle who sometimes will say things that I don't agree with," he said. "And I suspect there are some people in this room who have heard relatives say some things that they don't agree with, including, on occasion, directed at African Americans."
He concluded, "I understand the concerns and the sensitivities, and one of my goals constantly in my public career has been to try to bridge what was a historically powerful bond between the African American and Jewish communities that has been frayed in recent years."
Sorry, but that has to be done in public and not in private meetings. A public disavowal of Louis Farrakhan is also required before anyone in the Jewish community should even consider voting for Obama.
Ironically, Ralph Nader, who may yet prove to be Obama's undoing, is goading Obama to disclose his real position on Israel and the 'Palestinians:'
Also on Sunday, Ralph Nader, while declaring his third-party candidacy for the US presidency, attacked Obama for allegedly concealing his "pro-Palestinian" feelings.
"He's run a brilliant tactical campaign, but his better instincts and his knowledge have been censored by himself," Nader charged on NBC's Meet the Press. "He was pro-Palestinian when he was in Illinois before he ran for the state senate... Now he's supporting the Israeli destruction of the tiny section called Gaza with a million and a half people."
Nader called the Palestinian-Israeli conflict a "real off-the-table issue for the candidates," including Obama, whom he described as "the first liberal evangelist in a long time" to run for president.
"The guy doesn't know what he's talking about. He's got no credibility," an Obama campaign adviser said about Nader.
Obama's campaign on Monday responded to Nader's attacks on the senator's position on Gaza.
"Barack Obama's longstanding support for Israel's security is rooted in his belief that no civilians should have to live with the threat of terrorism," the campaign statement said. "In Gaza, Hamas continues to fire rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilians every day, and that's why it is long past time that Hamas renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel's right to exist and abides by past agreements."
Democratic National Committee consultant Matt Dorf, who also does Jewish outreach, also dismissed the Nader accusations as off the mark and meaningless.
"If he thinks there are voters out there to be had by demonizing Barack Obama's record, including on Middle East issues, he's going to find them," Dorf said. "Nader's going to get even less support than he got last time."
'Obama's longstanding support for Israel's security?' This one?
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-four years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 11 to 32 years and seven grandchildren. Three of our children are married! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com